The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria has issued a warning to the public about an Anthrax outbreak in neighbouring West African countries.
As a result, Nigerians have been strongly advised to refrain from the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat until the situation is under control.
The outbreak was first identified near the northern border of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Togo, putting the whole sub-region at risk.
According to Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, the bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans has already claimed several lives.
He explained that “Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.”
People can become infected with Anthrax spores if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
Anthrax symptoms mimic those of the flu, including cough, fever, and muscle aches, which can escalate to severe lung problems, difficulty breathing, shock, and even death if not detected and treated early.
Although Anthrax is not contagious and cannot be spread through close contact with an infected person, it can be transmitted to humans through the inhalation of Anthrax spores or the consumption of infected animal products.
The ministry further cautioned the public to avoid contact with animals that have not been vaccinated against Anthrax and to avoid consuming contaminated or infected animal products, such as hides, meat, or milk.